Well, that was fun. Twenty-two lead changes, a third-quarter comeback, incredible blocks at the rim, game-winning clutch shot and one last defensive stand that brought the house down. It wasn’t just the players on both teams that were tired after that game, everyone in the building left exhausted from this one.
A night after hosting new teammate Derrick Rose for Thanksgiving dinner, Carmelo Anthony had one of his best all-around games in a Knicks uniform with 35 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot in 41:09. His jumper with three seconds left at the shot-clock buzzer was his first game-winner with under 10 seconds remaining since Easter Sunday 2012, when he beat the Bulls with a three-pointer with 8.2 seconds left in overtime at the Garden.
“I wanted that shot,” Melo said of his winner over the Hornets. “I wanted that moment, to be honest with you.”
He needed that moment in a season where some are already declaring him a secondary player next to the emerging Kristaps Porzingis. But on a night where Porzingis didn’t have a lot going on offense (6-16 for 16 points) and was in foul trouble, Melo carried the offense. He had 16 points in the first half to get the Knicks off to a good start at home and then poured in 11 more in the third quarter when the Knicks turned a 13-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Porzingis did still find a way to make an impact — the great ones always do, don’t they? — with a host of blocked shots late in the game. With Patrick Ewing watching from the Hornets bench, Porzingis stopped dunk attempts by Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky at the rim. The Garden roared for The Unicorn’s defensive determination.
Rose punctuated the resilient Knicks effort on the night by blocking Kemba Walker’s three-point attempt just before the final buzzer. Collectively, the Knicks had 8 blocked shots and also 9 steals. They won the rebounding battle once again with 55 boards, including 13 on the offensive glass.
With their third straight win, the Knicks (8-7) moved over the .500 mark. More notably, they won their sixth straight game at Madison Square Garden to raise their home record to 7-2 on the season.
These teams battle it out again tonight in Charlotte to complete a back-to-back, home-and-home. This will be an important game for the bench, as four of the five Knicks starters logged over 33 minutes and three of the four (Melo, Rose and Courtney Lee) played over 37.
We’ll have the full pregame coverage, including just how good the Knicks offense has been over the last six weeks, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on MSG Networks.